Russell was educated at Edinburgh Academy (where he took a keen interest in athletics) and at Edinburgh University - entering in 1871, he qualified M.B., C.M. in 1877. In 1886, he then qualified F.R.C.S. on the President's Council of which he served. He was also on the governing board of the School of Medicine of the College and an examiner for the triple qualification. Russell held many appointments and up to his death was visiting physician to Donaldson's Hospital, Edinburgh. Russell joined the Territorial Force. He served in the Zulu War in 1879, and from 1881 was the medical officer to the Lanarkshire Yeomanry, where he maintained his connexion with the Army. Shortly after the outbreak of war he volunterred his services and was appointed to his old regiment.
Russell died suddenly at Dunbar. A friend and colleague wrote "He was genial and kind-hearted, an excellent practitioner, a keen sportsman, and a loyal friend. He will be sorely missed." He was the son of the late Dr Andrew Wood; and the husband of Florence M Wood of "Emral" Sunninghill, Berks.